The start of the 2024 high school season is just around the corner, and preseason expectations are for all five defending state champs to pick up where they left off.

When the season begins on March 4, all five reigning champs will open the season ranked No. 1 in the Deseret News preseason coaches rankings — Bingham (6A), Spanish Fork (5A), Bear River (4A), Grantsville (3A) and Enterprise (2A).

All but one of the five lost their ace, which will make repeating a bit more difficult, but hardly impossible, since the programs all have a strong history of success.

In 6A, a year ago, Bingham ended a 13-year state title drought with an impressive unbeaten run through the playoffs. It graduated a chunk of its main contributors, but Brecka Larson is back after emerging as the best sophomore pitcher in the state a year ago and playing a key role during Bingham’s title run.

Riverton, which won the previous two 6A state titles, will be ranked second to begin the season as it will be led by new coach Whitley Haimin, who previously coached at Cyprus.

Spanish Fork has won three straight 5A state championships, all with ace Avery Sapp in the circle. She’s now pitching at UVU, and the Dons will need to rely on new stars to make it four straight. By no means is the cupboard bare, though, as Tatum Hall and Jade Romero are both returning first team all-staters.

Springville checks in at No. 2 in 5A, followed by Bountiful, last year’s runner-up.

In 4A, a new era begins for preseason No. 1 Bear River as Jordan Theurer takes over as head coach for the retired Calvin Bingham, who won 11 championships in 24 seasons leading the Bears. Theurer is a former Ms. Softball, who won championships at Bear River as a player, and as a coach she inherits a strong core of returning players — including first team all-staters Bella Douglas and Aubree Fry.

“Our girls have put in the work on the field and in the weight room this offseason. We have several returners who we expect to lead by example and a talented group of younger classmen full of passion for the game,” said Theurer. “We hope to continue the tradition of excellence set by coach Calvin Bingham and by all those who have played at Bear River.”

Ridgeline checks in at No. 2 in the preseason rankings in 4A, and will be led by junior slugger Anne Wallace, who set a new state record with 27 home runs a year ago and recently committed to the University of Texas.

Grantsville has won five of the past six 3A state championships, but with only one key contributor back from last season, there are certainly question marks for the preseason No. 1 Cowboys.

“We graduated a lot of talented, experienced players off of last year’s state championship team. We will be young and inexperienced this year. Yet, this is one of the most talented groups we have had,” said Grantsville fifth-year coach Tony Cloward. “They will be competitive and if they figure a few things out we could be very good. They had a great offseason and successful summer. They are looking forward to the excitement and challenge the season will bring.”

In 2A, Enterprise is the only defending state champion that returns its ace — Blakelee Christiansen. She had a 21-5 record a year ago in leading the Wolves to the state championship, and with her back in the circle, expectations are sky high.

Enterprise returns several other key all-staters from a year ago: Addi Nelson, Kylah Humphries, Dacee Terry and Brooke Humphries.

Spanish Fork cheers as Tatum Hall makes her way home after hitting a home run during the 5A softball championship game against Bountiful at the Miller Park Complex in Provo on Friday, May 26, 2023. Spanish Fork won 8-4. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Deseret News preseason softball rankings

Class 6A

Team (2023 record)

  1. Bingham (25-5)
  2. Riverton (21-5)
  3. Herriman (23-6)
  4. Pleasant Grove (24-8)
  5. Weber (16-6)

Class 5A

Team (2023 record)

  1. Spanish Fork (28-2)
  2. Springville (20-8)
  3. Bountiful (24-5)
  4. Box Elder (18-8)
  5. West (16-6)

Class 4A

Team (2023 record)

  1. Bear River (26-6)
  2. Ridgeline (28-5)
  3. Desert Hills (19-7)
  4. Snow Canyon (21-11)
  5. Tooele (16-12)

Class 3A

Team (2023 record)

  1. Grantsville (27-4)
  2. Carbon (18-8)
  3. North Sanpete (21-9)
  4. Canyon View (20-7)
  5. Manti (12-13)

Class 2A

Team (2023 record)

  1. Enterprise (27-6)
  2. Duchesne (27-7)
  3. Parowan (16-11)
  4. Beaver (16-11)
  5. San Juan (20-11)